Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Nina Evans

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
10 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

Improve wellbeing through intergenerational virtual travel and experiences

If you’re interested in investigating the application of information technology innovations for social good, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a unique project-based PhD with strong community impact within the UniSA STEM Unit, in partnership with industry collaborators. 

Activities such as travel experiences positively contribute to wellbeing and improved quality of life. Yet, ageing can be physically debilitating, and traditional forms of travel are challenging for citizens with limited mobility. 

Immersive VR enables older people to visit their favourite places from the comfort of their own homes. An obvious disadvantage of virtual travel is that there is limited social interaction, but this can be overcome when people share virtual travel experiences, especially with people from different age groups. 

Intergenerational travel is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry. This project aims to investigate this trend in the immersive virtual reality world. We will generate new knowledge about the benefits of intergenerational social interaction and meaningful learning experiences to people from different age groups whilst engaging in immersive virtual travel and experiences. 

We aim to equip VR experts and vendors with knowledge and skills to design meaningful VR experiences that bring together older and younger generations. We also want to inform aged care providers about the impact of virtual intergenerational experiences on their clients and ways to implement programs with maximum benefit. 

We also aim to help public libraries to improve their services to the community by providing virtual experience opportunities, and to support the Australian Institute for Intergenerational Practice in their quest to reconnect communities through developing, implementing and evaluating intergenerational programs. 

You will be housed in the Information and Innovation Lab within the UniSA STEM Unit. The lab has a vibrant multicultural cohort of researchers and collaborators. This is a multidiscipline project, so you will also gain valuable access to other UniSA STEM and UniSA Business research groups and their resources and expertise, including the Australian Research Centre for Interactive Virtual Environments, the Centre for Enterprise Dynamics in Global Economies, and the Centre for Workplace Excellence.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will conduct data collection using a mixed methods approach. Multiple data collection methods will be employed, including onsite interviews, user experience study and observations. 

You will learn how to interpret the findings, design a novel digital inclusion and technology interaction framework, and participate in disseminating the results. You will also liaise with industry partners, through which you will gain a working understanding of how the new knowledge can be applied to understand and solve real world problems.

Being a multidisciplinary project, you will benefit from research mentoring by a team of senior researchers/supervisors from different fields, giving you access to a rich breadth of expertise.

Upon completion, you will have knowledge in information behaviour, immersive virtual reality experiences, intergenerational interaction, technology use by older adults and wellbeing of people from different generations. Communicating results is important, so you will be supported to lead at least one journal publication and participate in preparing other project outputs.

There will be opportunities for you to work with industry partners to build your working understanding of how theories can be applied to solve real world problems and impact social, industry and technical change. 

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the UniSA STEM Unit. We link engineering, mathematics, science, defence, cybersecurity, construction management, environmental science, aviation, information management, information technology, and project management, harnessing the connections across disciplines to bring big ideas to fruition. 

Our researchers deliver technical expertise and advice to industry, government and community groups to make commercially viable and sustainable impacts. The Future Industries Institute, Innovation and Collaboration Centre and Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments all provide consultancy and access to advanced technology. 

We integrate research into our teaching, with students working alongside researchers in first-class facilities. What’s discovered one day is taught the next.  

In an information-rich world, our people think big, combatting problems, testing solutions and making data-driven decisions. Our graduates are entrepreneurs and trailblazers, who design and build the world they want to live in.  

Supervisory Team
Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria: 
  • A recently completed Bachelor (Honours) Degree or Masters
  • Background in human information behaviour/human computer interaction and community engagement/wellbeing
Applicant who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded:
  • Knowledge in one or more of the following areas would be highly regarded: immersive virtual reality, virtual travel, wellbeing and needs of older citizens
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Friday, 10th February 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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